Body Fixers – My body doesn’t need to be fixed

Last year I was asked if I would appear on the channel 4 show Body Fixers, I considered it but decided it wasn’t right for me.

The name of the show goes against many of my morals and the ethos behind this blog, the idea that you need to fix yourself to look like other people and fit in with a socially acceptable ideal is not for me.

I was told how it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness of Crohns, Colitis and ostomy bags and the fact that it’s currently in the newspaper shows that could have been tha case, but reading this article I know I made the right decision.

The headline is ‘Crohn’s sufferer stunned by amazing transformation after 12-inch scar ‘disappears’ in Body Fixers’ and tells the story of Scott who has Crohns Disease and has a 12 inch scar after surgery. He says that the scar makes him feel self conscious.

He says: “When I first got it, it was quite thin buts it’s got wider, and as I’ve got older its got a lot hairier, and I’ve kind of got to the point where I don’t want to take my clothes off and show it.”

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The show uses lasers to treat the scar to reduce its visibility, before using his own blood cells to help regenerate the skin leaving Scott’s scar vastly reduced. He says he is happy with the results.

Now although this isn’t for me, I’m not having a go at Scott, I understand that scars and body changes are hard to deal with, that it does affect your self esteem, but for me the issue is more about looking at the root of the problem, why do we feel the need to “fix” people whose bodies are different to the “norm”?

My body is scarred. Like a LOT of scars.  I’ve had 5 surgeries in the past 4 years, I’ve been cut from sternum to pelvis a few times, I have been stitched and stapled together over and over again and my body is covered in shiny scars, some thickened keloid scars.

I have a permanent ileostomy bag and my body has changed beyond recognition.  But this is not something that needs to be fixed.

Its not to say that I haven’t struggled with self esteem and to learn to accept my new body, but the idea that I need to be fixed by a tv show doesn’t sit right with me.  The idea that my body could be a source of entertainment, a way for people to feel better about themselves, a pity party? That’s not for me.

The line between raising awareness and being fodder for the masses is one that I teeter on often.  I get offered a lot of magazines and TV work, and I turn down quite a bit as it’s so important to me that what goes out in my name is something that is respectful to those in a similar situation to me and more and more I find that shows are about using the emotional stories of disabled or chronically ill people to sell their wares.

Sometimes my image and story is used entirely without my permission.  Sometimes newspapers tell me they are running a story and I can be part of it or have no say…

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Its the nature of the beast I suppose, I put myself out there and once your image and story is in one paper, others feel they have carte blanche to use it too. But that’s a whole other story!

I worry that people will watch the show (it’s on tonight on E4 at 9pm) and look at their own scars and wonder whether they too should be ashamed and self conscious, should they have their scars removed in expensive cosmetic treatment? I worry that people who are feeling vulnerable, who have scars like this man will feel pressured into hiding them away as a source of shame.

This isn’t about one mans choice, it’s about how we simply don’t see people with scars in mainstream tv or magazines everyday.  We don’t see people who are happy with their bodies, who are proud of their scars.  And so when people with scars are seen with such a negative connotation then that becomes the norm.

Im not against people having treatment to reduce scars at all.  But where is the alternative? Where is the show that says ‘hey, your scarred body is beautiful and sexy and wonderful, let’s celebrate it you awesome lovely!’?

My body isn’t perfect. It is scarred and marked and wears an ostomy bag. It has stretch marks and lumps and bumps.

But it is mine and it doesn’t need to be fixed so it’s easier for you to look at.


Sam xx


the dark smog

I finally feel that I have enough energy to post about how things have been for me recently. I have posted about feeling down and anxious and seeing a counsellor but things have got worse and the last week has been the toughest time of my life.

Ive felt things slipping for a while, work has been stressful, my hernia is back (that’s a wholllllleeee other post!), my mum fell out with me in May and hasn’t spoken to me since, counselling brought up a lot of things from my childhood that aren’t resolved, Timm and I are having a rough time and so I’m really overwhelmed right now.

My sister came over from Australia for work for a few weeks which was amazing!!! But her going back is just a reminder of how far away she is. At the minute it feels like she’s the only person in my close family (not including Timm and the kids) who loves me and gives a shit, so her heading back home was tough and I miss her terribly.

But really, I don’t know what sparked this low point off. The past couple of weeks have been dark, this week I literally didn’t have the energy to move. I lay in bed hiding from the world.

I managed to work (I work from home) and so I kept things going on that side, but everything else went to shit. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move. Everything felt pointless, I felt pointless.

I suppose the biggest thing is that I’ll need another surgery and that has hit me hard. I just can’t believe I’m back to square one and I’m devastated. It’s made me feel so down on myself and my body. I feel like a failure. I feel like a burden. I feel like I only bring stress and shit (both literally and figuratively) to the people around me.

The thought of leaving the house and speaking to anyone made me cry and shake. I cancelled all plans. Even those with my best friends, I just couldn’t bring myself to move, let alone speak.

But for once I was honest about it, I text them and explained I was struggling. That was hard to do but I didn’t want them to think I was cancelling (yet again!) because I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be a shit friend.

I cancelled on my cousin for her child’s birthday party. But again, I was honest. I said I was struggling and couldn’t deal with a crowd.  I did joke that I should have come up with a more socially acceptable excuse but it actually helped to tell the truth.

I felt dark. Like everything was black and heavy. Like gravity had gone into overdrive and my body weighed more than is humanly possible. My mind went from spinning and whirling with terrible thoughts, to blank, silent numbness.  My mind was telling me how useless and worthless I am, it told me what a huge burden I am to everyone, it told me everyone would be better off without me.

It hurt.  No one ever told me that depression hurts, like physically pains you. My chest hurt, my head pounded, my mouth was dry and became ulcerated. My limbs ached, my back hurt, my eyes were dry and raw.

It came to a head on Friday, I exploded in grief and rage and fear and hurt. I threw it all at Timm and pushed him away from me. I said horrible things to hurt him. I told him to leave me.

I screamed and raged at him, I whispered the dark thoughts from my head and then waited for him to leave.

Because everyone leaves. My experience in life is that people who are meant to love you, they walk away and it tells you that you are worthless, that you literally aren’t worth the effort.  My dad did it, my mum has now done it, my sister doesn’t speak to me, cousins who I grew up with turned away at the blink of an eye, aunties block you without thought or care.

Everyone leaves.

Only he didn’t.

He kissed me and stroked my hair.  He rubbed my back and whispered words that told me I’d be ok.  He told me we were a team. He ran me a bath as I’ve not had the energy to bathe for a while. He loved me. He told me he has a choice, that he can choose to leave if he wants but he isn’t going anywhere.

He didn’t leave.  He stayed and loved me.

And it gave me a tiny bit of strength back, it helped me get dressed and take the kids to the opticians with him, it helped me to leave the house and see friends.  It showed me a crack of light in this dense, dark smog that is smothering me, it made me smile.  Even if it was only a small smile.

Its not a cure all. I’m not ok now, but I have slipped my fingertips into that chink of light and through it I can pull enough energy to call the doctors on Monday. It is just enough to allow me to ask for help.

And that’s what I will do.


Sam xxx